Category: Uncategorized

Efforts of Importance

by Sarah Earle I vividly remember the atmosphere of one of my first creative writing workshops.  I was nineteen, in college in Montreal, Quebec, with a now long-dead professor, his raft of gray hair yellowed by cigarette smoke.  It was cold outside (it was always cold outside) and unreasonably hot inside, and the mix of windowless conference room and sweaty…

It’s About the Love

by Dori Ostermiller In an interview a few weeks ago for ArtsHub of Western MA, the interviewer asked what I thought had made Writers in Progress so successful. I puttered and sputtered around this question for a while, trying to get a grip on what that word even meant, or whether I would ever use it to describe any of…

Research and Backstory in Fiction: A Strong Foundation, or a Tangled Web of Trouble?

by Jacqueline Sheehan As fiction writers, we create worlds for our characters to inhabit, and those worlds must be authentic–full of interesting context and realistic setting detail. As a fiction writer, you should know not only what your character likes to eat for breakfast, but what song they might be listening to on the radio in, say, 1971. You should…

What Does Psychology Have to do With Fiction?

by Jacqueline Sheehan An understanding of human psychology is perhaps the best preparation for writing fiction. What would motivate a character to dispose of her husband’s ashes in a bizarre manner, for instance? Why would your protagonist become diabolically obsessed with a dog? Why would an intelligent and athletic teenaged girl decide that food must be earned by acts of…

Lower Your Standards and Keep Going

by Dori Ostermiller It’s amazing, the myriad ways we avoid creative work…  Yesterday, during the hours I’d put aside for writing, I scoured my stove, gave myself a Tarot reading, took my dog to the ‘puppy store’ for treats, did fifteen sun salutations.  When I finally got myself to the computer, there were five or ten ‘urgent’ emails, which led to…

Embracing Habit and Ritual

by Kira Rockwell An aroma of medium coffee roast fills the studio with a hint of nutmeg and grounded earth. This warm drip, drip, drop into a clay mug her lover made signals the start of Marie’s day. After work, Julian pops into his local bodega for a sprite and a Kit Kat bar. Well, that and a friendly exchange…

Character Need and Desire

by Jacqueline Sheehan Donald Maass, a huge literary agent and author, says that he rejects 90% of the manuscripts he receives because the author has failed to reveal the main conflict quickly enough, or to keep the narrative pace moving. Maass is surely not alone in this. In order to define our story’s conflict, we need to be able to…

The Moon is a Sensual Rock

by Sarah Browning I’ve moved recently, and I’m unpacking books today. Specifically, poetry anthologies, of which I own scads. And what’s here, at hand, is an entire anthology of moon poems called Full, from Two of Cups Press and edited by Leigh Anne Hornfeldt and Teneice Durrant. This rediscovery is thrilling because I’ve titled the Writers in Progress workshop I’ll…

Revising Like an Editor

by Michael Mercurio Revision… You can tell yourself that it’s a chance to “re-envision” your work, or that it’s the easy part of writing, because the hard part is getting the words down on paper in the first place. But how many writers do you know who sweep the clutter off their desks and bellow, “HUZZAH! TIME TO REVISE!” before…

Tasting Memories, a Q&A with Sarah Earle

by Cece Roth-Eagle Writing memoir, like good writing of any kind, involves a re-creation of our memories into compelling narrative.  But accessing memory can be tricky work.  This week, Writers on Writing talked to Sarah Earle about memory’s catalysts and her childhood hominy grits. Her course, ‘Accessing Memoir with Food,’ takes place Saturday, May 29th from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30…